Small Size Matters

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Alexander Karolik Shlaen Alexander Karolik Shlaen, EMBA, is the founder of the Singapore-based Panache Management Pte Ltd which represents Aston Martin Interiors, Tonino Lamborghini Casa and Formitalia design lines in Asia. Panache Management is involved in real estate and technology investment projects and provides luxury interiors and design for exclusive real estate, private jets and super yachts. Shlaen has appeared in various regional and global media and has written the Luxury Expert columns of regional business magazines since 2009. He is also on the judges' panel for Asia Property Awards and is frequently sought to attend established business forums. Learn more on

As an investor, I always look at the various parameters indicating the investment’s future appreciation. When it comes to real estate, location is key, but there is another ingredient that kicks-in - a scarcity of land. Places where land is finite, yet many people want to be, have a big appreciation potential; Hong Kong and Singapore islands being good examples. Other such super-draw destinations in our region are Thailand’s Samui and Phuket. Their draw of tourists and people who crave their own slice of paradise is intense, and it’s pushing prices of prime, sizable properties into many millions of USD.

In Phuket, high-end properties see an ongoing demand, and so do the lower end - the latter mostly thanks to the constant stream of Thais, who move to the island from other Thai provinces to service the growing population of HNWI residents and tourists. The other source of the lower-end demand are foreigners, who want a second home, but don’t want to or can’t spend much. Luckily for them, with the island’s relatively good infrastructure, one can stay in good conditions throughout Phuket, at a fraction of the west coast properties’ cost.

Still, the overall land is limited so the prices will rise further. The scarcity of land on the desirable west coast will push the already astronomical prices further up. Million USD properties are selling fast, despite the lack of financing for foreigners, who are almost the only buyers on the sandy sunset side of Phuket. This means that these buyers pay cash, making Phuket one of the most expensive places in Asia, if not the world, to invest in; a destination more suitable for cash-rich, longer-term investors.